May 2001

The dawning of each new day in Roanne now brings the departure of another boat.  Since mid-April, we have been to the lock many times to wave goodbye to friends made over the winter.

The first of our friends to leave were Bill and Francis, the only other Americans who spent all winter on their barge. They were great gPhoto of a bargeym, country drives, circus, lunch, dinner, happy hour, and just plain hanging around talking friends. They taught us how to make wonderful rope bumpers for our barge, and we took French lessons together.  Being friendly Texans with personalities as big as their state, and a million funny stories, everyone missed them as soon as they left, especially us.

Winter has brought us many new friendships.  The port is large and the barges are spread out nicely, so that we have met the other boaters slowly over time.  First with just a greeting, then with a conversation, and soon an invitation to come over for an afternoon or an evening. We have had wonderful snacks, lunches, and dinners on neighboring barges, getting to know each other. It has been fun to experience foreign food cooked by someone who considers it home cooking.

another bargeGeorge and Maggie are English, but have lived all over the world, most recently in Cypress (where their dog Korri Mou was born). They have been great neighba really cute white sheep dogors and friends. We went to our first Boxing Day party on their barge Limey.

Korri, sat outside wagging her tail to welcome everyone, as people came and went all day.  The food never stopped coming out of the kitchen.

Whoever started the rumor that English food is boring has never been invited to eat on George and Maggie's barge.

Limey got a makeover this winter and looks terrific with her new enlarged wheelhousanother bargee.

Peter and Jane owned a French restaurant in Cape Town for many years, where Peter was the chef.  They just bought a new barge and they are in the process of remodeling from bow to stern. They will stay in Roanne all summer having the work done, and we look forward to seeing the finished project in the fall.

They cooked a great meal for us in their old kitchen, and we can hardly wait to taste what they will be able to do in their new kitchen with their restaurant quality stove.a cruiser



Roy and Anneke are our closest neighbors, and we have enjoyed their company all winter.  We tap on each others doors to borrow a cup of sugar or whatever we might need at the moment, but forgot at the store. They are Dutch and Roy's family was originally from Indonesia. Anneke cooked us a delicious Indonesian meal one evening, recipes she learned from her mother-in-law. Everything was delicious.

a barge



John and Lizanne are English but have lived in Africa and Asia for many years.  It was their idea to start a weekly happy hour, which has turned out to be a big success. They invited us for lunch on their barge one Sunday afternoon along with Bill and Francis. It was dark when we came home about 8 hours later. Both John and Lizanne and Bill and Francis have been living on Barges for almost 10 years. There were some great stories and more good English food with a hint of a foreign accent.

a barge


Willy and Ilse and their dog Bruno are a Swiss family that have a barge and a camping car. They travel on the canals in the summer and then take car trips in the winter.  Ilse works out at our gym and Willy works out on their boat, he is always busy improving something.

an ex rental boat




One of the nicest events of the winter was a trip to the local theater for a performance of La Belle Helene.  John and Monique, a French couple who winter here at the port had joined a local amateur production and they were singing in the chorus.


a cruiser



Dymphna, the unofficial port sergeant, organized the evening and we went as a group, about 20 of us. We were all surprised when at the beginning of the performance an actor came out to speak to the audience and thanked our group from the port for attending.

The audience applauded and everyone smiled at us. It was a lovely moment, and we felt the warmth of the people in this town. We realized that we are very happy here and that something like this would have never happened in a theater in Paris.

As the rookies of the port, everyone wintering here has been so helpful to us, that it has been like taking Boating 101.  We are now ready to cast off into our first full season of cruising.  Look out Paris, here we come!

Sailing Notices: 10 May from the Port de Plaisance, Roanne

Eclaircie  Designation: Namur, Belgium